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Tory minister on £115k salary calls for ‘pay restraint’ to control inflation

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A Conservative cabinet minister who is paid well over £100,000 a year has called for workers to accept “pay restraint” to control inflation.

On the eve of strike action by rail workers Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, attacked workers’ demands for wages to keep pace with the cost of living.

Mr Clarke, 37, is paid £31,680 for his ministerial job on top of £84,144 he gets as an MP, with his combined £115,794 salary putting him in the UK’s top few per cent of earners.

Taking aim at opposition leader Keir Starmer, Mr Clarke hit out on Tuesday at Labour calls for a negotiated settlement between unions and employers

“Zero pay discipline and a licence to entrench and inflame inflation,” the Tory minister said. “This is where a Labour government would take us.”

The RMT union is asking for rail workers’ salaries to keep up with inflation – which last month hit 9.1 per cent.

Boris Johnson last year promised a “high wage economy”, but the top Treasury minister’s comments endorsing a real-terms pay cut appear to suggest the plan is on hold.

Prior to becoming an MP for Middlesborough Mr Clarke was chair of the Oxford University Conservative Association, before training as a lawyer and then working for various Conservative MPs.

Inflation is currently at a 40-year high, with rising fuel costs prompted by the war in Ukraine the main factor driving prices.

But economists have warned that Britain has been particularly badly hit because the governemnt has disrupted supply chains by leaving the EU.

If workers’ wages do not keep pace with inflation they will effectively be taking a pay cut in real terms.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said on Wednesday as the rail strike got underway: “Working people are being held to ransom by not being paid enough wages.

“It’s more of a ransom that you can’t feed your children or pay your bills.

“People are being made almost destitute in some cases. There are private sector and public sector workers who simply cannot afford to exist in this society.”

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